The trial for Lauren Handy, a prominent anti-abortion activist who made headlines last spring, is set to commence on Wednesday. Handy, along with several co-defendants, faces felony charges for their involvement in blockading an abortion clinic in Washington, D.C. In a separate incident, Handy attracted attention for storing fetal remains in her apartment, leading to further questions during the upcoming trial.
Handy, 29, is asserted to have obtained the fetuses from a medical waste truck parked near the same D.C. abortion clinic she blockaded over a year ago. However, the source of the fetal remains remains unverified. Despite this, Handy and her anti-abortion group, Progressive Anti-Abortion Uprising (PAAU), held a press conference claiming ownership of the remains on the day after Handy was indicted for the clinic invasion. Supporters painted her as an activist rather than a felon facing legal consequences.
In anticipation of the trial, Handy and her co-defendants aimed to argue that their clinic blockade was justified due to their belief that fetuses are people. However, no federal court has ever agreed with this assertion. U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly recently ruled that Handy cannot present photos of the fetal remains as evidence during the trial. The judge stated that the truth regarding the disposal of the remains is irrelevant to the proceedings.
Handy faces up to 11 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $350,000 for violating the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. This charge stems from the blockade the defendants carried out on October 22, 2020, which involved forcibly entering the clinic and obstructing access to the treatment area. During the blockade, the defendants used ropes and chains to bind themselves to waiting room chairs, which required police intervention to remove them from the premises.
Handy has faced previous legal charges related to her anti-abortion activism, including trespassing at a Virginia clinic in 2021 and invading a Michigan clinic in 2019. Prosecutors alleged that she even planned another clinic invasion while on pretrial release in the current case. The trial will also delve into the incident where police discovered biohazard material in her apartment in March 2022. However, Handy has not been charged for this particular incident.
While the trial represents an opportunity for Handy and her co-defendants to capitalize on media attention and assert their ideological arguments, legal experts believe that such tactics are unlikely to sway the court’s judgment. The outcome of this controversial trial will be closely watched by activists on both sides of the abortion debate.